Jalpuna

Apogee Duet Noise: The $2 Solution To A $500 Problem

If you don't know what an Apogee Duet is, you can ignore this post. On the other hand... if, like myself, you've been suffering from a soft fax-machine type of hiss or noise from your Duet, you might find yourself amazed by this $2 quick fix.

I bought myself an Apogee Duet two months ago. The Duet is an amazing audio interface for Macs. It costs $500, which might sound like a lot for just a metal volume knob with a pair of inputs and outputs, but the sound you'll get from this thing easily outperforms anything else in its price range and rivals D/A converters costing more than three times as much.

The very first thing I noticed when I plugged in the Duet was that everything sounded... bigger, fuller, deeper, wider... better. Music was more fun to listen to, and I could hear things in the music I've owned for years that I'd never heard before.

Wow!

The second thing I noticed was... "What the heck is that?" It wasn't a hiss. It sounded more like a fax-machine or an old modem, maybe? It was a soft noise coming from my speakers, and it was there at a consistent volume regardless of how loud I turned up or down the volume on my Duet. It bugged me enough that I considered returning the Duet... but when I unplugged it and reverted back to my Mbox2, everything sounded flat, dull and lifeless by comparison. Sure, the noise was gone, but so was so much of the music.

"Awwwwwwe CRAP!"

An evening of Google searching proved that I'd tried just about everything everyone else had tried to fix this issue... and like everyone else, I was coming up empty. In the process of plugging and unplugging, wiring and rewiring, I'd made a mess.

Time to clean up.

And that's when it happened. I unplugged my monitor and the noise disappeared. "What the heck?" Plug it in... there's noise. Unplug it again... it's gone. "Hello ground loop!" Here's the $2 fix: I plugged my cheap computer monitor into a 3-prong to 2-prong adapter, and then into the beefy surge protector I'd previously had it plugged into.

Problem solved!

Two closing notes: Keyboard volume keys and the breakout cable.

I love my Duet, but I've been annoyed at how the volume keys on my keyboard don't work especially well with it. One touch of a keyboard volume key equals five clicks on a Duet. That's awful. Well, I found a way to have the keyboard volume keys match the sensitivity of the Duet, and I posted a step by step how-to here. It makes a huge difference!

Finally, if the Duet's breakout cable really bugs you, there is an upgrade option. Check out The Duet Breakout Box.

P.S. All of my Apogee Duet/Maestro posts are here.

::::: | Friday, May 08 2009 at 4:40 PM
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Comments:


David K said:

You can't be serious. I've tried everything to get rid of the soft crackles from my Duet and accomplished nothing but a waste of my time. Your $2 solution cost me nothing as I had a few of those adapters lying around. The hiss is gone. THANK YOU.

::::: | January 5, 2010 10:12 AM


Sven Otto said:

Thank You very much for your hint.
Now i have to solve the problem with european prongs. We already have 2-prong plugs.
Bye

::::: | January 5, 2010 3:56 PM


mb-de said:

Gents,

I'd be mighty careful with this suggestion.

Your breaking the groundloop mechanism interrupts the Protective Earth connection of the device you use the adapter on.

Should this device develop an internal isolation fault, your life may be at risk because the grould connection across the signal wiring may have too high an impedance, allowing dangerous voltages to develop across your kit...

Just my two cents

mb-de
===
PS: Never encountered the described buzz problem - but then, I am using proper transformer-based ground loop breakers on inputs and outputs...

::::: | February 9, 2010 10:47 AM


Christophe said:

THANK YOU SO MUCH.

::::: | February 10, 2010 8:37 AM


Rob said:

mb-de said: "Never encountered the described buzz problem - but then, I am using proper transformer-based ground loop breakers on inputs and outputs..."

As was I. And yet, there was hiss. For the life of me, I can't figure out what causes it or why I only had the issue with my Duet. Or, maybe it's a case of the Duet being the only thing that reacted in a way I could hear? Maybe I've had this problem forever but only became aware of it when I bought a Duet? I don't know.

I do know that everything I own is plugged into various surge protectors, but, for example, it made no difference which surge protector my monitor was plugged into.

My laser printer also caused my Duet to hiss, but I sold that a while ago and my new printer has no such issues. Hopefully, when I replace my monitor, I won't need these adapters anymore.

Interestingly, this solution has solved Duet hiss for many people, yet Apogee seems unaware of it (the problem and solution, I mean, not my post).

::::: | February 10, 2010 10:43 AM


Rusty said:

I just got a brand new Apogee Duet.

The first thing that I've noticed is a lot of noise coming through the headphones - this before I even attempt to plug in an instrument.

I am able to hear the instrument - it just has all this static-y noise with it.

Is there a setting selection that I'm missing? I feel like I've followed all the instructions properly.

I was using a very cheap mixer for an interface. Not the most convenient method, but it works and doesn't give all this noise.

For $500.00, I thought I would be getting an upgrade. Someone has recommended a third party "Apogee break-out box" - which costs another $200 +.

I really want to be in love with my new Apogee. CAn anybody tell me what my problem might be?

Thanks!

RB

::::: | December 27, 2010 4:53 AM


Rob said:

You might want to try re-reading this post. I don't mean to be rude, but it sounds like you have a cheap piece of gear that is conflicting.

In my case, I had two cheap pieces of gear. One was a crappy printer and the other was a really cheap computer monitor. I went to Radio Shack and bought the 3 to 2 prong electrical converter I posted about above and plugged my monitor into it, which solved my problem until I plugged in my printer. Again, a 3 to 2 prong converter solved the issue (but I eventually got a new printer).

The trick is to unplug everything - even your monitor. See if there's noise. Then, start plugging stuff back in until you find out where the problem really is.

Again, just to be clear: I'm not saying to unplug things from your Duet. I'm saying to literally unplug them from the wall. I stripped my system all the way down to having nothing plugged in except the Mac and the amp that powers my speakers. No mixer in between. NO STATIC. Then, I started plugging things back in. As soon as I plugged in my monitor, I heard static.

That Apogee Duet is a huge upgrade from anything you owned before it. The digital to analog converters it has are stunning. Sadly, it is a little finicky. Or maybe it's the firewire chain in a Mac that's finicky? I honestly don't know. All I do know is that I solved my static issues with a quick trip to Radio Shack.

Good luck!

::::: | December 27, 2010 1:26 PM


marc said:

It works like a charm! Thanks Jalpuna!! Meaning it's a ground loop after all. I've got an iMac 27" and a pair of active monitors. I've tried it with the iMac first and then I was going to do it with my monitors, but it worked from the first time. BTW won't I get electrocuted if one day there is an internal short in my iMac?

::::: | January 22, 2011 7:57 PM


Rob said:

HHHhhhhmmmm... I'm having trouble believing that your iMac is the root of the problem. If I were you, I'd keep trying. I realize your iMac is also your monitor, and my monitor was part of the problem... but could it be something else in your case? A printer, perhaps? Or a lamp?

::::: | January 22, 2011 8:00 PM


John said:

My brother has a Duet box and it has gone back 3 times for faults. The first time it was the breakout cable at fault. The second time the Duet box itself lost the Mic No1 input and I took it to the place where he bought it in Sydney and they replaced the whole thing. Since that replacement it has been used only twice, and the same thing has happened again. I've done a full resistance check on the all cables and they check out fine. The circuits are unbroken back to the PCB side of the 15-pin connector so it has the be the main unit again. When the shop replaced the unit they said the original warranty was still in place - that it would not be extended even though it was a brand new unit. I've given this considerable thought and the only reason a new warranty would not apply is if it was likely the replacement unit would fail as well, which it has. To us it seems that this is a $700 (in Oz) piece of junk!

::::: | January 22, 2011 8:02 PM


Rob said:

Wow! I recommend the Duet to people all the time, and I've never heard anything but good things from people who bought one. Even the reviews online seem to be absolutely glowing with praise. I guess somebody was eventually bound to have a bad experience with a Duet. Sorry to hear it was you. I've had mine for nearly two years and it's been flawless.

Best of luck!

::::: | January 22, 2011 8:06 PM


John said:

Thanks Rob! Good to know that this case is in the minority. I guess it may be worth contacting the manufacturer directly with an explanation of the problem and see if they'll do anything. I think they'll not want this kind of bad publicity getting around.

We did a choir recording last night and wished we had brought a backup DAT and mixer.

::::: | January 22, 2011 8:13 PM


benjamin said:

Dude you are a true life saver. my duet had been noisy since since I bought , but I didn't really pay it any attention because my mbox 2 was noisy. at first I tried your solution but I still heard the noise until I thought . Oh Crap I'm running a dual screen setup So I would need two of them instead of one. Now my studio is so quiet it's scary lol because I've been so use to hearing the noise. Once again man I greatly thank you for the tip.

::::: | February 6, 2011 12:27 PM


Krishna Lester said:

Hi, can anyone help me? I have a Duet a macbook pro and a Yamaha P80 keyboard. How do I connect from keyboard to Duet? Do I use the audio, red white jacks on the keyboard? And then if all of that would work what settings should I have on the computer, and Maestro? I have Garageband and Amadeus pro, which I prefer. As you will by now have concluded I know little, I am a musician, not a technician!
Thanks

::::: | March 30, 2011 7:44 AM


Rob said:

Krishna, you're better off seeking a pro audio forum for help. I'm not familiar with your keyboard, but if it's a midi keyboard, you can't connect it via midi to the Duet because the Duet isn't a midi device. Google pro audio forums and Yamaha Keyboard, and you'll get much better replies. Best of luck.

::::: | March 30, 2011 10:36 AM


Alan said:

Love ya.

fixed my problem in one sec.. oh my lord..
thank you so much for posting this!!! great help man!

::::: | August 1, 2011 7:53 PM


mikenason said:

I don't get it. How is a 3 prong to 2 prong to 2 prong adapter solving the static issue the Duet gives? I hear it both through my monitors and my headphones (which isn't powered). so the prong adapter would be no use for me. I am hearing the static through both headphones and monitors so wouldn't the issue be with the Unit itself? Help anyone..

::::: | August 18, 2011 1:13 PM


Rob said:

Mike, you've got a ground loop somewhere. For whatever reason, the Duet is particularly susceptible to picking up noise from ground loops, which explains why you're hearing it in both the Duet headset output and the Duet monitor outputs.

::::: | August 18, 2011 1:18 PM


Matt said:

I'm using a Macbook Pro with Yamaha HS80m active studio monitors and a Yamaha S70xs keyboard as well.

I can't stand the hiss and i don't really want to break the ground loop on any of them.

What should I do?

::::: | October 1, 2011 9:55 AM


Matt said:

Matt, why wouldn't you want to get rid of a ground loop? I'm going to assume you don't know what a ground loop is (understandably), or that you're under the impression that getting rid of the ground loop is somehow bad (in fact, it's the opposite). Your ground loop isn't a single piece of gear. It's current looping from one piece to another, and it can be caused by more than just the gear you mentioned. Mine was caused by an old laser printer and my cheap flatpanel monitor.

Anything plugged in to the same outlet shares the same ground. You need to figure out which thing is causing the loop and terminate the loop at that point. Again, using my setup as an example, terminating the ground on the electrical plug of my flatpanel monitor solved my problem because it terminated the loop at the source of what was causing it to loop in the first place (I usually kept my printer unplugged since I rarely use it. As soon as I plugged it in, the hiss returned, which told me that I had another problem device - the printer. Terminate the loop there and the hiss went away).

::::: | October 1, 2011 2:12 PM


Ruben Carrillo said:

For 1 year, I have been dealing with this crap. I'm going to order that part. Finally I found something that sounds promising. Thank you, in advance. :)

::::: | December 14, 2011 12:57 AM


David said:

You should really check out the Monster Power "Clean Power Level 1" power strip. Works wonders. I live in Bermuda and it is really common to have a "difference of ground hum".
This resolves the issue and allows your devices to be protected. you have to run all your devices through it that are connected. It's a bit more than $2 but well worth the protection of your electronics.

::::: | October 18, 2012 5:46 PM


bradelectro said:

YES. Thank you so much for this post. I've been posting on forums, racking my brain, and racking up credit charges for new cables, adaptors- I even a new LCD monitor! Then I found this post last night, spent $1.49 for a 3-to-2 prong adaptor, and like magic the "digital babbling brook" is gone.

You should be getting a stipend from Apogee.

::::: | October 21, 2012 12:54 PM


Happy recorder said:

Thank you for posting this. I read one of the comments about hp printers causing the problem and immediately unplugged mine. Whala! Thousand thanks for the quick fix to a miserable problem.

::::: | December 15, 2012 12:01 PM


Jacob said:

Worked for me as well! Luckily I had one of these adapters just sitting around the house. Popped it on and the audio is perfectly clear now. Thanks!

::::: | December 19, 2012 7:23 PM


Philip said:

I got the same problem with my Macbook. I recorded 16 tracks to find out I had to record without the Power Adapter from the Macbook plugged in. I'm not going to record those tracks again, but without the Power Adapter plugged in it's absolutely noise free.

Cheers

::::: | December 26, 2012 5:08 AM


Feltmanmusik said:

I had this problem...occasionally I'd just touch the Duet and everything audio related would just freeze up...iTunes, my DAW (Live), even Soundcloud! I believe this to have something to do with static electricity discharging from my body upon touching the Duet. The only way to get things unfrozen has been to reboot the MacBook Pro. I just tried the following and maybe it'll solve this problem....I have the Duet going through a USB hub. I've put the power adapter for the hub into a 3 prong adapter. Hopes are this solves the problem.

::::: | March 1, 2013 12:54 PM


Trey said:

I HAD to respond. Bless your freaking soul. I have had an issue with the line ins forever. Figured it was my cheap ass bass guitar (beginner here).. I couldn't record anything because the noise was so bad. I now have at least 30 more dBs of headroom because of this thread!! I luckily had a 3prong adapter in my tool box!

This is the best thing that has happened to me this weekend. Just wanted to share my gratitude.

::::: | March 3, 2013 1:02 PM


Aaron said:

This same issue was driving me crazy after installing a new monitor on Monday. Didn't really connect the two things until I read this, so for that you have my deepest thanks man! I happened to have some of these adapters lying around too so no trips to the store either. Thanks again for posting this!

::::: | March 28, 2013 12:05 AM


Rob said:

You're welcome!

I wonder if the newer USB version of the Duet has the same tendency to pick up ground loop noise as the firewire version. I assume we're all talking about the firewire Duet (obviously, I am).

Cheers!

::::: | March 29, 2013 2:04 PM


Nigel said:

Just got a firewire apogee duet hooked it up, beautiful clear crisp sound but also an annoying buzz followed by a pop maybe every 30 seconds or so. I'm running straight into a macbookpro, so just unplugged the computer from the wall - buzz instantly disappeared. So, little inconvenient, but at least it does appear to be a consistent ground issue as per the original post here.

The sound is worth the hassle though - absolutely crystal - can hear so much detail it's incredible.

::::: | October 1, 2013 9:50 AM


jon said:

just want to say thank you for this post. I've been pulling my hair out with my duet since day due to this issue and just have learned to deal with it since the noise was not recorded. decided to try to research this today to finally rid the issue and came across this post... of course I've had a whole bunch of these adapters around the house and it worked instantly. FYI for macbook pro users - it also helped to not use your extended power cord (the 3 prong one) and just use the standard plug.

::::: | December 30, 2013 8:11 PM


Rob said:

Glad I could help Jon! I wrote this post in 2009, but here we are at the dawn of 2014 and my Firewire Duet is as awesome as ever. Interestingly, I bought a new monitor a few months ago, and sure enough, the buzz was back. WTF?! Oh, right. I forgot to use that little adapter plug.

Add the plug... problem solved.

::::: | December 31, 2013 4:41 PM


ross said:

unplugged my visual monitor after reading one of the posts-put in a ground lifter and walla-problem gone.thank you so much people for posting. saved me a ton of time.

::::: | July 7, 2014 11:34 AM


Ben said:

hey,

I've been trying to understand this 3 prong thing. I'm really new to audio interface and external gear.

Can anyone help me out?

I got all these other connections in the box with my duet 2. But I cant connect them into my power board.
its just a standard electrical circuit.

I constantly hear a humming noise, then when i connect my virus c theres alot of white noise.

hope you can help!

::::: | July 11, 2014 2:27 AM


DW said:

I JUST WENT TO THE TWO PRONG ADAPTER WITH MY IMAC 21.5 INCH AND I AM SO DARN HAPPY THIS WORKED. I HAVE THE TWO NEW APOGEE DUET 2 USB THAT IS COMPATIBLE WITH IOS. I AM SO PLEASED THAT I CAN FINALLY RECORD HISS AND HUM FREE, YOU ARE AWESOME DUDE

::::: | August 24, 2014 4:58 PM


firipph said:

thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

::::: | October 22, 2014 10:27 AM


Ben said:

Thanx for this useful info! I have another issue with the Duet (Firewire). Everything works well for recording and playing back in Logic. But when I listen to music in itunes, after about 30 minutes it starts skipping and stuttering like an old scratched cd. (only when I use the Duet for listening itunes, no problems if I use the macbook soundcard). I'm working on Yosemite, and this problem never occured on Snow Leopard. Anyone had the same problem?

::::: | July 13, 2015 3:55 PM


George said:

Wow!!! That really worked. This problem has been bugging me for a year and your ground loop solution fixed it :) I'm grateful!

::::: | November 22, 2015 11:04 PM




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